Massa defends decision to disobey team orders

2014 Malaysian Grand Prix

Felipe Massa, Williams, Sepang International Circuit, 2014Felipe Massa defended his decision to ignore orders from Williams to let his team mate overtake him in the closing stages of the race.

Massa was leading Valtteri Bottas in the closing stages when Williams repeatedly told him to let his team mate past.

Among the messages given to Massa were “Valtteri’s got better tyres we need to let him go” and “Felipe you’re slower than Valtteri, let him past”. Meanwhile Bottas was being told “You’re faster than Felipe, overtake him.”

However Massa refused to give up the position and finished the race ahead of his team mate.

“I think I did the best I could with my race,” he told reporters afterwards. “I was fighting to the end and my target was to score as many points for the team and me. We’re only in the second race.”

The pair were following Jenson Button and Williams wanted to release Bottas so he could go after the McLaren.

“Valtteri couldn’t pass me so it was going to be difficult to pass Jenson as well,” said Massa. “I don’t think that would’ve changed.”

Bottas disagreed, saying “I think there was a really good chance for me to get Jenson”, but did not comment on Massa’s refusal to let him by.

Williams eventually told both drivers to cool their engines and instructed Bottas to hold position, telling him: “We really need to cool the car, no overtake.”

Asked whether it had been unfair of him to disobey the team’s instruction Massa said: “Is it fair to do the best we can?”

“We have two championships, I respect my job, we need to respect each other.”

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155 comments on Massa defends decision to disobey team orders

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  1. Ciaran (@ciaran) said on 30th March 2014, 12:00

    Massa’s only going to put himself in trouble with the team, kicking up a fuss this early in the season. Williams’ aim was obviously for maximum constructors points, so it made sense for Bottas to be given a chance to take on Button if Massa was clearly unable to.

    • SeaHorse (@seahorse) said on 30th March 2014, 12:37

      And Bottas was unable to even pass Massa

      • HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 30th March 2014, 12:43

        @seahorse Bottas had better pace all the way through the race. In the very end of the race both Williams drivers were told to bring the car home, so he wasn’t even trying to overtake Massa.

        • SeaHorse (@seahorse) said on 30th March 2014, 12:57

          @huhhii Bottas was indeed told to pass Massa after Massa was told to let him pass. It is not right to say he wasn’t even trying to overtake Massa. You could clearly see his desperation in that post race interview.

          • HUHHII (@huhhii) said on 30th March 2014, 13:14

            Bottas was trying to overtake Massa around 5 laps before the end of the race, yes, but he gave up in last few laps because the team told him to cool the car and bring it home. Without team telling so, I’m sure Bottas would’ve passed Massa.

      • knoxploration said on 30th March 2014, 17:57

        Exactly. If he couldn’t pass Massa, he had no realistic chance of passing anybody ahead of Massa.

        This was literally the only interesting thing in the entire race, and I believe Massa did the right thing. (Even though the team will doubtless punish him for it.)

        • Velocityboy (@velocityboy) said on 31st March 2014, 8:49

          and if Bottas used up his tires passing Massa what would the point have been? Bottas had better tires at the time so he would have been better able to take the fight to Button which was why Massa was told to move over. Most likely Massa pushed the team into Bottas’ corner with his behavior which probably won’t help him as the season progresses.

      • Jeanrien (@jeanrien) said on 30th March 2014, 18:01

        @seahorse I think it’s more difficult to overtake someone following another car as both get DRS … But Bottas could have been a bit more aggressive to prove his point there

      • @seahorse In F1 eing .5 quciker is not enough for overtaking but if you take massa being .5 quicker than Button and Bottas being .5 quicker than Massa you’ll see why Bottas ccould had passed Button. In the end poor decision from Massa but he’s got sponsoring so if Williams want to keep the sponsoring they know what to do? Kick Massa and put Nasr instead.

      • svianna (@svianna) said on 31st March 2014, 16:45

        Bottas was “unable” to overtake Massa, but let’s remember a couple of things:
        1. Bottas overtook people right and left during the Australian GP, so, there should be no question about his ability to pass, when he is able to.
        2. when you are fighting your teammate, coming from a race where you made a mistake and dropped several places, you will be EXTRA careful. After all, you don’t want to risk taking your team out of the points.

        During lap 7, when they broadcasted the team radio exchange, Massa sounded like a frightened little girl running for mommy, asking for help. Bottas, on the other hand was calm and collected. To me, that shows a lot about the “manliness” and “stature” of both drivers.

        As a country fellowman of Massa, I have followed his whole F1 career. As Rubens B, he is an average driver and would not be where he is now, if he did not bring Petrobras and Banco do Brasil sponsorship money.

        I also hope that the Williams F1 Team raise their game. During the Australian GP, when Bottas hit the wall, the TV director cut it to Claire Williams and she was in front of the monitor, head down, totally dejected, about to cry. It is CRITICAL that a professional F1 team have people who can manage their emotions during the race. Otherwise, things get out of control. Vis a Vis Raikonnen and Lotus in 2013 when a very nasty exchange was heard between the Finn and a Team principal.

    • Breno (@austus) said on 30th March 2014, 13:06

      Considering Bottas followed a team order earlier in the race, Massa should have returned the favor.

      • DaveD (@daved) said on 30th March 2014, 20:15

        @austus Exactly! My first reaction was to be mad at Williams for even coming on the radio and saying those words to Massa. But when I heard the replay of the team radio of Felipe earlier whining about Bottas trying to pass him, I lost all sympathy. Felipe can’t use team orders when it’s to his advantage and then view himself as the victim when it comes back around later.
        Had Bottas been allowed to pass him earlier, then they wouldn’t have been in that position at the end of the race.

        • Considering Felipe’s following so many other team orders in the past, almost all of them to his disadvantage, I think he should finally be allowed to say “no!” a few times now. He’s earned it.

          • GB (@bgp001ruled) said on 31st March 2014, 4:23

            are kidding??? tell that to williams!!!! he should have say no in ferrari where he was alonsos doormat! he is new in williams and there noone cares if he was a doormat before: he has to obey his team!

          • DaveD (@daved) said on 1st April 2014, 4:47

            @bgp001ruled totally agree. Felipe is claiming he was such a victim…and now he wants to do the same to Bottas? He was screaming for them to make Bottas not race him early in the race….so it’s ok when HE’S the one doing it?

            No, he’s lost my sympathy and I was really pulling for him before this.

  2. GeeMac (@geemac) said on 30th March 2014, 12:01

    “Multi 7719″ doesn’t have quite the same ring to it does it…

  3. Sam (@) said on 30th March 2014, 12:02

    He should have moved over and let Bottas have a go.

    However his engineer should have chosen his words better. Practically repeating the same words as in Hockenheim wasn’t really thoughtfull.

    • Mach1 (@mach1) said on 30th March 2014, 12:37

      Agreed, I think this was the catalyst for his actions. My jaw hit the floor when I heard him say nearly the exact same words.
      If he had said, “Bottas is on a different strategy, let him through”, then maybe the outcome would have been different. But the way it was worded just made the situation worse.

      • Ryan (@ryanisjones) said on 30th March 2014, 13:18

        +1

        This is not a simple debate about disobeying team orders. Had the first message been “Bottas has newer tyres, let him through”, I don’t think we would even be having this debate. But the engineer said “Bottas is faster than you”.

        Knowing the history, and trying to make a joke of one of the main reasons Massa decided to leave Ferrari, is naive at best and simply stupid at worst. The reason people feel the need to defend Massa, is because that message was incredibly disrespectful. Your team should be there to support you, not publicly make a mockery of you.

        Telling a competitive driver that their team-mate is faster than him without justification is like saying “you cant drive as fast / you’re not as good as your team-mate”. Any driver worth his salt will see that as a challenge and attempt to prove himself. This is psychology 101. Of course he wasn’t going to let him through after that.

        Massa didn’t cost Williams points today, that engineer did. If I ran that team all blame would be placed publicly on his (the engineer’s) shoulders, so he could know what it’s like to be made a mockery of publicly.

        • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 30th March 2014, 13:33

          What utter garbage. It was a statement of fact, nothing else.

          • ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 30th March 2014, 13:44

            Its a question of driver management. Its well known that Massa is mentally pretty fragile in the cockpit. It may well have been fact, it was still unwise to say it.

            Unless it was a very shrewd way of getting Massa to get a shift on. Win-Win; he rolls over and Bottas gets a go at Button, or he gets incensed and speeds up for his own crack at the McLaren. In turn showing Bottas he himself needs to up his game.

            Though i doubt it; even if he let Bottas through and he’d subesquently took Button for more points, i’d wager Massa’s broken spirit would’ve cost them as a team more points over the rest of the season.

            The way it is, at least Massa has shown he’s regained some of his early career fight.

          • Ryan (@ryanisjones) said on 30th March 2014, 14:15

            @raceprouk

            It was a statement of fact, nothing else.

            Don’t be so ignorant. If your job is to manage someone and effect their actions, then how you say things (context/syntax/semantics) is just as important as what you say. The self righteous belief that because it’s a fact, people will listen does not work in real life. Especially if said statement is a dent to ones ego.

          • Ryan (@ryanisjones) said on 30th March 2014, 14:48

            @raceprouk – Good argument. Well done.

          • ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 30th March 2014, 14:49

            @raceprouk True. Perhaps they’ll touch on that in todays tense debrief then, maybe it wasn’t addressed properly in pre-season – another possible shortcoming.

            But i think we all know if Massa was just another penniless generic latin driver he’d be in South American tourers right now. Being the leading Brazilian with pockets full of reals to replace the Venezuelan oil dollar is the reason he’s there; the shaky racecraft and reasoning will therefore be tolerated.

          • Hemz Shaw (@hemzshaw) said on 30th March 2014, 16:23

            I dont know if those of you fighting over have managed people in their career. I have and I would completely agree with @ryanisjones.

            You simply cannot tell a person that your team mate is better than you on your face. It is demeaning, especially if you have a temper that is on the higher side. The way you word yourself has an effect of how the message would be passed on and accepted. Surely, Massa felt bad.

            I am no Massa or Val77eri fan, I used to follow Williams for some years and only interested now coz of the Martini livery. Nothing else.

          • Dave (@raceprouk) said on 30th March 2014, 16:48

            @hemzshaw – There’s a difference between respect and babying. Sometimes the kindest thing to do is to be harsh.

          • karter22 (@karter22) said on 31st March 2014, 5:43

            @elbasque

            Its well known that Massa is mentally pretty fragile in the cockpit

            That is why he is not championship material! You have to be ruthless in racing… You cannot expect everybody to treat you like a rose petal! I for one would scald Massa and tell him to behave like a man. It seems he sporadically grows a pair and then leaves them at home most of the time!
            He is in the wrong business if he expects everybody to baby him like Smedley did.

            Fact is he is not fit for racing! He was soo close to button, he could´ve had him but when the time came to put it on the line, he left his pair in the basket with all the easter eggs. He´s like a cheetah… bursts of speed but no endurance whatsoever! He gave up on trying to pass Button! That is the difference between a driver like him and a driver like ALO! The only real racing today came via ALO/Hulkenberg! And yes… school is out Hulk… I hope you learned your lesson well today!

        • matt90 (@matt90) said on 30th March 2014, 15:33

          If I ran that team all blame would be placed publicly on his (the engineer’s) shoulders, so he could know what it’s like to be made a mockery of publicly.

          Yeah, that seems like reasonable workplace practice. Publicly humiliate your staff because they forgot that they were supposed to be wrapping Massa in cotton wool like a little baby bird.

          Ryan, if you call somebody ignorant just because they think that drivers should behave like adults, you can’t fault them giving you a curt response, as they realise addressing the flaws in your argument is a waste of their time.

          • David Margono (@woshidavid95) said on 30th March 2014, 19:33

            @matt90

            I have to disagree here, adult or not a certain level of diplomacy is to be expected… choose your words carefully to yield the best results; it’s the reason job interviews exist or how businesspeople become successful among others. In this case, Massa’s race engineer didn’t think things through and failed to consider his past history with team orders.

          • matt90 (@matt90) said on 31st March 2014, 0:53

            He didn’t use enough tact, but that doesn’t elicit the response suggested. Also, I can’t really fault the engineer for thinking more about the race at hand than Massa’s troubled past. And also, do we know if that was the first message sent to Massa, or one after he had been disobeying for a time?

          • karter22 (@karter22) said on 31st March 2014, 5:46

            @matt90

            I can’t really fault the engineer for thinking more about the race at hand than Massa’s troubled past

            I think we finally agree on something matt90! Massa is in the wrong business! He behaves like a streetwalker sometimes! He needs to be slapped and kicked to the curb!

        • Nick Vereker said on 30th March 2014, 17:05

          Quite right well said . You don’ t pay someone of great experience to come second , have some respect . The team has tacticians who should have some tact .

        • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 30th March 2014, 21:27

          one of the main reasons Massa decided to leave Ferrari

          @ryanisjones Are you joking…. you think Massa decided to leave Ferrari?

  4. Force Maikel (@force-maikel) said on 30th March 2014, 12:02

    I can understand his decision but then again, didn’t he ask the team to keep Bottas on the leash in the initial stages of the race?

    • Cranberry said on 30th March 2014, 15:06

      Exactly! The team held Bottas back since he first caught up to Massa, if they had allowed Bottas past at that point Bottas may have leapfrogged Button in the pits….it was too late in the race to unleash Bottas for the last 3 laps after keeping him behind Massa for the majority of the race.

      I don’t blame Massa. Just like he is quoted in the article, it is only the second race, Bottas should’ve overtaken him on merit. Good on Massa for not yielding to team orders, and this is coming from a Bottas biased person.
      This is similar to RB last year, it is too early in the season for team orders and I respect the drivers that don’t just roll over and allow the positions to be decided in a meeting room.

    • Jimmy_D (@jimmy_d) said on 30th March 2014, 15:15

      I don’t understand this argument. If you have more pace than the car in front of you, then you should be able to overtake it, why do you need the guy to move over?

  5. ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 30th March 2014, 12:03

    The more things change, the more they stay the same.

    But i’ll just ctrl-v part of what i put in rate-the-race.

    “I think the pit wall screwed up. As soon as they repeated almost word-for-word the phrase he got at hockenheim they lost him. If they’d have elucidated the situation a bit better, perhaps even touching on his earlier request that bottas obeyed, he might have yielded.”

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 30th March 2014, 12:05

      @elbasque Keep in mind only a small proportion of the actual messages get broadcast.

      • ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 30th March 2014, 12:11

        Yeah fair point, but even if that was only one of 10 differently worded requests, i can just see Massa having a Vietnam-style flashback of rage as soon as that particular one was used. Knocking dead any fence-sitting he may have been doing.

        I don’t think Massas quite as bad as some people say, but he seems to need to be babied psychologically through every issue since “the incident”.

        I like how he magically started suffering temp issues about 30 seconds after his insubordination though.

    • hawkii (@hawkii) said on 30th March 2014, 12:46

      I concur completely, whether that was the first message or the fifth message, using the exact same wording as Ferrari did was almost a parody of itself. If I was Massa I’d wonder if they were trying to humiliate me. I obviously don’t know what agreements they have/don’t have behind the scenes, but the phraseology involved certainly seemed less than diplomatic in isolation.

    • Racehound said on 30th March 2014, 12:47

      …..eloquently put, and an almost ethereal foresight into how this situation could have been more delicately dealt with.. As insightful dare I say as the very experienced MB….still for my money the best commentator in F1 along with DC. spooky. #:)

      • ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 30th March 2014, 12:54

        Damn, rumbled! Murdoch’s money is good, but i’m trying to make some more on the side once Keith brings me on board.

        Unless you’re taking the micky, in which case i’m handing this account over to Crofty.

      • ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 30th March 2014, 13:32

        Actually just seen Ted grilling CW over it; did the Sky team bring up the same guff i wrote? I scurried off to the BTCC as soon as the race results came on-screen.

    • karter22 (@karter22) said on 31st March 2014, 5:53

      Massa is just a B!tch! He should just man up and drive with a pair always, not only when he has his team mate behind him… It seems he just pushes when the guy with the same car is behind or infront of him, he tends to forget the other 20 cars around him..

  6. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 30th March 2014, 12:05

    What was Williams thinking with that team order? Yes, Bottas could have gone after Jenson, but is that worth ruining the atmosphere within the team, especially given that such a team order might stir very strong feelings in their new recruit?

    They should just let their drivers race and only resort to team order unless it’s absolutely crucial.

    • Ivan B (@njoydesign) said on 30th March 2014, 12:19

      That’s what I thought. Also, I don’t think Bottas would’ve been able to overtake Jenson

    • come to think of it. its 2 points which wont change the constructors outcome especialy with double points at abu dhabi.

      it does show that f1 still hasnt sorted out the problem the car behind cant overtake in dirty air.

      and also ive seen the laptimes from both on mclarens timing website and massa and bottas average laptime for the race was 1.46.1 . bottas was quicker at the end because masa was losing time in buttons air but bottas couldnt even overtake with newer tyres for that same reason.

    • petebaldwin (@petebaldwin) said on 30th March 2014, 14:29

      As a team, they’d have only gained 2 points anyway. With only a few laps left, do you want someone like Bottas attacking Button? Surely it’d be better at that stage to just bank the points.

    • Bernard said on 30th March 2014, 19:06

      I totally support Massa on his decision!

    • Bernard said on 30th March 2014, 19:10

      This is by far the best comment I’ve read about this incident. Very well reasoned!

  7. Hotbottoms (@hotbottoms) said on 30th March 2014, 12:11

    I’d respect Massa for his decision, if he hadn’t moaned about Bottas earlier in the race and if he didn’t have the benefit of a team order earlier in the race.

    But I also agree with many commentators that whoever was on the team radio did bad job today. Reminding Massa about Hockenheim 2010 was a big mistake.

  8. Matt (@mattf1f) said on 30th March 2014, 12:14

    I think the only one to blame is the team. At the start of the race Massa complained when Bottas was gettin too close, as a result the team made Bottas to back off. Then they pitted Bottas too late when tyres were in bad shape already so he lost a lot of time against Massa who the team had pitted couple laps earlier. Then when Bottas caught him again fair and square, team tells Massa to let Bottas by. Where is the logic? I Think Williams are shooting their own foot here. Really bad race engineering so far from them.

    • Ivan Rheenen said on 1st April 2014, 0:11

      He didn’t complain about Bottas getting too close, it was about Bottas jabbing the rear of his car. The penalty for qualifying behind another driver is having to pass him during the race. Bottas simply couldn’t without a free pass.

  9. Mark Hitchcock (@mark-hitchcock) said on 30th March 2014, 12:15

    If Bottas couldn’t get past Massa fair and square I’m not sure why Williams thought he had such a good chance of attacking Button.

    • Sam (@) said on 30th March 2014, 12:19

      Massa could not get over Button, might aswell give Bottas a try, total points for the team will stay the same if it fails and increase by 2 if it works.

    • ElBasque (@elbasque) said on 30th March 2014, 12:21

      I suppose they thought that as he looked racier and faster at that particular part of the race, with (marginally) fresher tyres, that they’d let Bottas have a crack.

      From a team perspective, theres no difference in swapping their drivers around, but if anyone was going to move forward it was Bottas, and there’s no point having him put effort (and tyre/temp wear) into overtaking someone when theres no additional points on offer from a constructors viewpoint. Better to let all that effort into gaining the team an actual increased points haul.

      They just forgot who they were trying to manage.

  10. DaveF1 (@davef1) said on 30th March 2014, 12:18

    So I guess there’s going to be a massive uproar and people are now going to boo Williams for their disgusting and sinful act of telling their slower driver to let the faster one through.

    Oh wait, they’re not Red Bull or Ferrari, never mind.

    • Chris (@cgturbo) said on 30th March 2014, 12:23

      I boo Williams not for the order, but the way in which they executed the order.

      Even forgetting how similar the wording was to Hockenheim, I thought it was worded tastelessly… A bit like how Lotus shouted at Kimi late last year.

      If team orders like this are to be given… At least word and voice them more politely.

      • GB (@bgp001ruled) said on 30th March 2014, 19:46

        both massa and the team are professionals, arent they? if the engineer must think about what he says and how it says it, man williams should go back to being one of the worst teams! and massa should go to another sport like sync swimming or ballet or something…

        • rafael martins said on 1st April 2014, 13:52

          Professionals, so they must think every move and wording on a race pit wall. And @GB: dont forget that 2008 Hamilton’s championship with a delivery overtake by Glock…assuming that you are a moaning englishman.

    • Joe silva said on 30th March 2014, 12:53

      Fact of the matter is Massa dosent own the team Frank Williams Does and if my boss tells me to move over even if I’m in first place then I’m going to move over. When Massa buys and owns his own team then he won’t have to worry about team orders.

  11. imarlab (@imarlab) said on 30th March 2014, 12:20

    Now Felipe has yet another problem: he cannot blame Fernando’s supposed arrogance…it was so easy to blame Fernando. Now what?

  12. pxcmerc (@pcxmerc) said on 30th March 2014, 12:21

    best move in the race, not to move over. He was right, Bottas would have never passed Jenson, because he couldnt pass the guy who was supposedly slower. They were fighting only for the drivers championship, Massa was completely with in his right to hold his position. It’s obvious that Williams are too short tempered these days about their position in the constructors, given they might have been pushing expectations a little high. I think Williams need to come back to earth and admit they are just fighting for points at the moment, and teams like McLaren, Ferrari, Red Bull, and Mercedes have much better chances. 9th and 10th position is about where Williams is, now that Lotus is struggling and Force India are trying to get a grip, and Sauber is no where to be found.

    • Sam (@) said on 30th March 2014, 12:28

      If Williams had any wet weather pace at all they would be miles ahead of the McLaren for sure. Possibly fighting Alonso and Hulkenberg. Massa started 13th and Bottas 18th yet together with Button from 10th finished within one second.

  13. Jules Winfield (@jules-winfield) said on 30th March 2014, 12:28

    Well done, Felipe. I think it was important for him not to pull over and let Bottas past.

    I wonder if Rob Smedley was at home, yelling at his TV? “Don’t let him past, Felipe baby!”

  14. DavidS (@davids) said on 30th March 2014, 12:29

    I can understand a racer wanting to keep position, but I think this may have damaged Massa’s standing in the team considerably.
    I also don’t think the team order was a smart move from the pit wall. Any time a team get’s involved in team orders, one driver is going to get the short end of the stick. Then that needs to be balanced out, which results in the other guy getting the short end of the stick. Instances where you receive favourable treatment aren’t as memorable as instances where you get shafted, so the situation becomes one of having both drivers being bitter.

    The best thing to do is let them operate under the assumption that they are allowed to race. We’ve seen this strategy work at Mercedes and McLaren, and famously not at Red Bull.

    • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 30th March 2014, 13:49

      Actually the team probably were correcting for the team order they gave Bottas early in the race to not to try and pass Massa.

      The only one who can complain here of dumb team orders is Bottas. Of course Bottas couldn’t overtake Massa, because Massa also had DRS and with equal cars it’s pretty much impossible to pass in F1. Bottas was clearly fastter though.

  15. gabal (@gabal) said on 30th March 2014, 12:37

    While I agree that Massa shouldn’t have listened to team orders he has a bit of double standards as at the start of the race he complained when Bottas tried to pass him. I’m sorry Bottas backed off then because Massa failed to takeover both Magnussen and Button and I’m sorry we didn’t get to see Bottas fighting with Button for position at the end of the race…

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